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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Bad Customer Service: Example of Chico's

One reason I love thrift stores is that there is no customer service. I do not want sales people flattering me.

Every now and then, I do venture to a real store. Right now, I will vent my irritation at Chico's. Now I am not a great customer of that store. I bought one thing there this year. I find the quality very low for the price. And I hate that I am often the youngest person in the store. But some of their stuff has updated styling.

What I really hate is the customer service. Chico's sends me incredible coupons, probably because I don't buy anything. So I once ventured in to the one in Tuscaloosa Alabama, when we had a bit of time to kill. Miss Em sat in a chair and read a magazine. I tried on a shirt and, though I was pretty sure it was unflattering, I wandered out to show my obliging daughter. Before I got to her, I was intercepted by two beaming saleswomen. I said, "Please don't say anything. I want to get my daughter's opinion first."

They said, "Oh, we weren't going to say anything. We just like to look at the shirt on people who wear it well, so we can give ideas to other customers." OMG. Is that part of their training? Miss Em just shook her head. We left.

Then I succumbed again on Cyber Monday. There was free shipping and a discount, so I decided to try some skinny jeans. I got a confirmation, but then no shipping email. Finally, after more than a week, I called. The rep put me on hold and after about half an hour reported that the suppliers hadn't made enough. Oh. "Why wasn't I notified?" "We only just found out." Erghhhhh.

After a few days, I still hadn't received a cancellation so I emailed Customer Service, suggesting that they should officially cancel my order. I also suggested that they give me free shipping on another order. The response I got said (paraphrased) "Thank you for telling us about canceled order and free shipping. We will pass your concerns on to our production team blahblahblah."

I wrote back, saying that not a single one of my issues was answered. I got the SAME response again, with an added comment (paraphrased), "We are a specialty store and supplies are limited." Maybe it's a specialty store--whatever that means--but there are over 600 of them!

Once again, Aristotle comes to my rescue. The customer service in-store is too much; the email customer service is too little. And I still haven't received a cancellation!

To recover from my irritation, I went to Goodwill, where I found a new Chico's jacket. I decided all by myself that I liked it. Karma once more.


Duchesse said...

Have the same feelings about Boden, the UK firm who have a US presence. I live in Canada. The US store will not ship to Canada, I have to order from the UK and shipping charge is minimum $35 or so per order. Crazy. When I protested, was given the same "we will take your concern forward" blowoff. Broke down when they had a sale and ordered from UK. Horrible quality, so at least don't mourn not being able to get the stuff.

Chicos looked matronly to me when I checked out shop in Naples, FL, where my mother lived. Think they're successful because they make things to fit the more mature US woman's body- certainly not because of fabric quality or style.

hostess of the humble bungalow said...

I have been into Chicos in Seattle and they were really overstaffed in my opinion and they pounce on customers as they enter. One gal followed at my heels commenting on the items as i perused the stock. Way too intense for me so I left.
The clothing is very loud and patterned so it really is not my style anyhow.
Their approach must work a there was a line up at the till.

Over the Cubicle Wall said...

I thought Chico's was a Mexican Restaurant chain. Maybe I am thinking of Panchos?

Glad you found something you liked at the Goodwill.

Funny about Money said...

Now, as a matron, I don't feel it's fair to call clothes "matronly" just because they're ugly.

It has been years since I've found anything worth putting on my back at Chico's. They used to carry gauzy crinkle-cotton artist's shirts that were THE business in our 110-degree summers: cool and breezy and they didn't have to be ironed.

But then they decided to upscale their product, the result of which is they carry stuff that can be worn in only one place on earth: inside one of their shops. The wonderful artist's shirts went away.

I loathe Chico's weird sizing (since when did a 12 get to be a size 2?). Nothing fits, and even if it did fit, construction is shoddy and design is dumpy.

Here in Phoenix, one is not generally harassed by the sales staff, but then that may be only because in my Costco jeans I don't look the type who can afford to buy in upscale shopping centers. IMHO, the reason there's a long line at the cash register is that Chico's marketing approach is to mail out bushel-basketsful of discount coupons, and some people can't resist "saving" money by spending.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Duchesse--That is so unfair! Boden offers free shipping/returns in USA. As a thinnish person with an oversized waist, I have grudgingly come to appreciate pants I can close. Most of the stuff is awful though. And it doesn't last--the Goodwill Chico's items look very shabby.

@hostess--See above for my changing body lament. I told a pal tht with chico's 9or Eileen Fisher0 you're paying $30 for the pants and between $50 and $100 for the waist band. Sad but true.

@Cubicle--Ignorance is bliss!

@Funny--I didn't use the word matronly! I agree about the coupons. My mother's closet looks like a Chico's museum. All lined up with the price tags still on.

Noelle said...

Good Afternoon, Frugal Scholar,

As I work in the public relations department at Chico's, I'm terribly sorry to hear about your experience at Chico's. I would love to have the opportunity to chat with you for a moment and make it up to you! If you would like to connect, please e-mail me at


Funny about Money said...

A Chico's museum! LOL!!!

Maybe you could get Chico's to sponsor it, and then you could charge people 50 cents a peek to view the collection of historic Chico's outfits.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Noelle--I will take you up on your offer and report back.

@Funny--It is a very LARGE museum.